Video streaming and sophisticated gambling technologies in recent years have brought real-life casinos to millions of online gamblers. What was once perceived as a weird addition to some online platforms is today one of the most popular ways to play roulette, blackjack or craps. Live dealer blackjack, in particular, enjoys huge popularity as it combines the best of the two worlds – the thrill of playing against an actual dealer and convenience to do it from your computer or mobile device.
Live dealer blackjack online has, indeed, attracted many casual and semi-professional blackjack players as it gives them the opportunity to experience the real casino experience even without leaving their home. Live casinos are often developed by gambling software companies but are sometimes also created in collaboration with casino operators, too. Sometimes, the games are streamed from a professional studio, while other times, they are played in brick-and-mortar casinos.
Software studios constantly release new and improved blackjack games and as a result of all this, the variety of live dealer blackjack variations online is remarkable. As the majority of large web-based casinos now host at live casinos, these games are widely available to real-money players from all around the world.
What Is Live Dealer Blackjack?
Just like other live dealer games in online casinos, live blackjack is an interesting combination of real-life and Internet-based play. It is played just like blackjack in brick-and-mortar casinos – usually, tables have 5 or 7 seats and are hosted by young, friendly dealers who deal the cards and announce the outcome of each round. Players can interact with other players and with the dealer via a Live Chat feature, which makes the game even more authentic.
Live casinos are usually available only to real-money players who have registered user accounts in the online casino. Patrons can load them on their computer, tablet, or mobile phone and the games are streamed in real time. When opening a live dealer blackjack game, players can see a virtual blackjack table or at least a virtual betting area on their screen while at the same time, they also watch the actual blackjack table being operated by the dealer.
The game is not generated by computer software but a result of the dealer’s dealing of cards and the decisions made by each seated player. Most live casinos would offer games with 6 or 8 decks to create as much randomness as possible but there are also some versions of live blackjack that use 4 or even fewer decks, although this is rather uncommon. In addition, some live dealer games use automated shuffling devices but an increasing number of software studios are introducing manual shuffling of the cards.
Of course, a card cut is usually used – this is a blanc plastic card in a bright color that signifies that the current deal is the last one before the cards must be shuffled. Typically, around 50% to 70% of the cards in the shoe will be dealt before shuffling. The reason for this is to prevent card counting, which is easily spotted by pit bosses and other staff members in brick-and-mortar casinos. When playing a live dealer blackjack game online, skilled card counters can gain an advantage over the casino if the cards are not regularly shuffled.
Live Dealer vs. Land-Based Casinos
There is not much difference between live dealer blackjack and the blackjack games in land-based casinos in terms of how you play. Live online casinos were specifically designed to simulate the real-life casino experience and generally, they do an excellent job creating this unique atmosphere. Depending on the software company that is behind the specific live casino technology, the tables could be set either in a professional studio or in an actual, brick-and-mortar casino.
When a dedicated studio is used, players can often see multiple gaming tables in the background while playing. Sometimes, you can even hear other dealers talking and announcing cards, wins and losses. While this is not particularly pleasant, it does not bother most players as it matches the noise levels you could expect from a brick-and-mortar casino. However, there are much fewer distractions for the player than in an actual casino and this is why many gamblers prefer playing online.
Some online gambling operators and software providers, however, have decided to stream blackjack, roulette, and other games directly from large European casinos. This eliminates the TV studio atmosphere and feels even more authentic to players, although the live dealer tables available in the online casino are separated from the rest of the tables in the gambling establishment. Still, you can clearly see the professional dealers, the specific casino chips in use, and even slight differences in the rules or payouts of each game.
We should also mention that online blackjack is way slower than blackjack in land-based casinos. When visiting a Vegas casino, for instance, many inexperienced gamblers may feel completely overwhelmed by the speed of the game. They would feel the pressure from other players to place their bets and play their hands quickly, while they will have to pay attention to the game itself. When playing live dealer blackjack, however, you are on your own and even though there is a timer for placing bets and deciding whether to Hit, Stand, or Double, there is no peer pressure.
Online payments are easier, too – players can make instant deposits into their gaming accounts and request fast withdrawals of their winnings, using their preferred payment method, be it a credit card, a bank transfer, an e-wallet, or even cryptocurrency. This brings us to another aspect of gambling online – the option to play real-money blackjack anonymously (or as anonymously as possible). While privacy is not an option in land-based casinos, it is very important when playing online and there are often online platforms where you can play under an alias or a nickname.
Last, but not least, live dealer blackjack usually offers more favorable rules and a wider range of blackjack variations than land-based casinos. The majority of online gambling operators offer at least several versions of a live dealer blackjack, each coming with its own set of rules, payouts, and table limits. Brick-and-mortar casinos, in contrast, would usually stick to the same rules across all blackjack tables. Moreover, the betting limits tend to be higher in land-based casinos.
Live Dealer vs. Virtual Blackjack
When comparing virtual blackjack with live dealer blackjack online, we must say the gaming experience is, indeed, quite different. Many online gamblers stick to the virtual games because they are safer – they have really low table limits where you can play for as little as $1 per deal (sometimes even less) and you can play as slow you like against the computer. Moreover, virtual blackjack tables are single-player and the pressure and the stress from the real-time casino action are gone.
Of course, this is exactly what some players are looking for when searching for a good blackjack game. So, the choice would mostly depend on personal preference than on anything else. Still, there are several things players should consider when starting to play virtual blackjack. First of all, it is slower than the live game and the table limits tend to be much lower but that is not all.
There are dozens of virtual blackjack games so players have a great choice of variations, both classic and more unconventional ones. Virtual blackjack seems easier to play, although it is the same game and it follows the standard rules of 21. Players can always look up the rules and use strategy charts without worrying about how slowly they play. Moreover, most online casinos allow a fun-play mode for these games, which means that you can practice your preferred version of blackjack without risking real money.
Another important difference between live dealer and virtual blackjack is that virtual games tend to offer better rules. Usually, online casinos provide the theoretical Return to Player percentages of their games and players can easily opt for the blackjack version that has the best average return. Operators also display all rules of the game in detail and you can easily notice that certain variations of blackjack offer rules that are more favorable to the player.
A good example of this is the Surrender rule that is rarely available in live blackjack but is still offered in most virtual games. Surrender allows players to give up half their bet when they see their hand and the dealer’s first card. This rule favors the player, so it is always better to choose a game with it rather than without it. In addition, while live blackjack usually uses 4 to 8 decks of cards, some virtual games are played with a single deck, which is certainly beneficial to the player.
The other thing that is really great about virtual games is that they are available 24/7, unlike most live dealer casinos where the tables are open for 10 or 12 hours. Of course, some live casinos are available around the clock but this is the exception that proves the rule.
Advantages of Live Dealer Blackjack
There are many advantages online casino players would enjoy when opting for live dealer blackjack. First and foremost, it is the closest to the “real” gaming experience offered by land-based casinos as possible. Live games are always more exciting, more interesting, and they can certainly teach you how to play blackjack in an actual casino against an actual dealer. There are more blackjack variations online than in brick-and-mortar casinos and there is a wider range of table limits that would suit the majority of players.
There are also several great aspects of playing in an online casino that some gamblers have never even considered. The first one is the convenience – online casinos are easily accessible and can be visited by anyone from any part of the world. They are usually available in several languages and accept multiple currencies and payment methods. In fact, online deposits and cashouts are often faster and easier to make than in land-based casinos where you would need to wait for quite some time to receive your winnings in cash. In addition, you may need to pay a gambling tax, depending on the national and local regulations regarding the casino industry.
Land-based casinos are, indeed, more regulated and privacy is hardly an option. In addition, the best you would receive from the casino is a free drink or a free chip after you have already lost a lot of money on the blackjack table. When playing online, however, even in live dealer casinos, you will usually be able to take advantage of various reload bonuses, cash-back offers, regular promotions, loyalty and VIP programs, and more. Moreover, online players can enjoy free entry to various blackjack tournaments with cash rewards of up to several hundred dollars.
Disadvantages of Live Dealer Blackjack
Before starting to play at a live casino and live dealer blackjack, in particular, online players should take several disadvantages of these games into account. Those who rely on getting an advantage over the casino by counting cards would be disappointed – online casinos have taken precautions against this practice. When you sit on a live blackjack table, you will notice that the cards in the shoe are being reshuffled before 50% of them have been dealt. This makes card counting completely pointless as each deal is more random than in land-based casinos.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most live casinos are not available 24/7 and especially when it comes to good, high-quality gambling platforms, they are extremely popular. In other words, if you want to play in a decent live casino, you will see that the tables are quite busy and finding a seat is not an easy task. Playing alongside other blackjack players may be more exciting but, at the same time, it may also be quite annoying if there is someone on the table who is not aware of basic blackjack strategy.
In addition, the table minimum may be higher than you can afford. While most virtual blackjack games allow you to play for as little as $1, live dealer tables usually accept bets of $10 per deal or more. If you are not carefully choosing the table you play at, you can easily lose your entire bankroll within half an hour. This is why it is always best to stick to the 5% rule – never bet more than 5% of your bankroll in a single deal to avoid overspending. Remember that you should bet only what you are prepared to lose and not a penny more.